Beautiful spiders’ webs
Autumn beckons and with the seasonal changes in the orchards of the National Fruit Collections comes the first foggy, dewy mornings and the tapestries of spiders` webs. It’s lovely to see the multitude of `sheets and orbs` across Brogdale’s orchards and grasslands, hedgerows and gardens. The wildlife at Brogdale is fascinating whatever the season.
Butterflies love fallen fruits
Early September`s fallen fruits, particularly pears and plums, attract dozens of red admiral butterflies nectaring on juices. Though fewer in number, we also enjoy small tortoiseshells and commas visiting the orchards this time of year.
Whilst the early flowering plums suffered from variable pollination due to the changing temperature conditions, some varieties have cropped in frost free locations. One plum tree has hosted a green woodpecker`s nest in a hole just three feet from the ground. An unusual occurrence! Great spotted woodpeckers have also bred successfully within the site`s boundaries.
Dragonflies love the heat
The mini heat-wave of late summer continues to attract dragonflies of several darter and hawker species. Dominant along sheltered field margins are migrant hawkers.
A farewell for now to our migrant birds
September sees our summer migrant birds departing, although pulses of swallows and martins will sometimes linger if insect activity is high over the grassland fields. Warblers and other passerines work through the hedgerows and orchards, with occasionally the sighting of a redstart, as was the case recently during the pruning of the cherry orchard.
Buzzards now regularly circle the Kentish orchards, with Brogdale no exception. Rabbits are a staple diet, and no doubt they will influence the continued expansion through Kent of this particular bird-of prey
Fruit named after birds!
Coincidentally, many apple and plum varieties have been raised with ornithological names. Redstart is one as well as Puffin and Pigeon. Also, Stint, Mallard, Heron, Bittern, Blue Tit and Blackbird come to mind
The rapid excursion into harvested orchards will quickly give way to winter flocks of redwings and fieldfares; and yes, Redwing is an English apple probably raised over one hundred years ago by Charles Ross, who was head gardener at Welford Park in Newbury, Berkshire. Bet he saw these winter thrushes in his orchards!
Visit our orchards
To enjoy the nature in Brogdale’s orchards this autumn, why not think about buying one of our orchard passes. This gives you year round access to the rare and heritage orchards in the heart of Kent, so visitors can enjoy the trees and wildlife throughout the seasons.